School of Hardwood Knocks #5 - Trey Kerby
The cream of the crop show their best crossover moves as roles are reversed and interviewer becomes interviewee.
I work very hard. The work I do isn’t very serious, but I’m very serious about it.”
Those are the words of the inimitable Trey Kerby, the man who specializes in basketball jokes and the ilk. The man who is not only the President, but also a client of the “Brad Miller to Springfield” campaign. Okay, that hasn’t been established yet, but what has been established is Taco Trey’s place as a bloggerstar in NBA circles.
Beginning his blogging days in 2004 on his self-created site the Blowtorch, he took to writing NBA humor, providing fans with impressive Photoshop work and witty videos. After parlaying his work into a job with Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie as a writer and editor, he moved on to bigger and better things as he would join his boys J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas on the tremendously popular Canadian show, The Basketball Jones – better known as TBJ. With the final episode under the TBJ umbrella and subsequently the final blog posting from Trey (fittingly a reference to one Brad Miller), Trey and the crew became free agents heading into the 2013/14 NBA season. Forget Dwight Howard! Everyone was intrigued as to where Trey’s next destination would be.
J. Terrell Price caught up with Trey to gain insight on what it takes to cover the National Basketball Association from his perspective. Kerby also dishes the dirt on their move to NBATV, what we can look forward to during the season, and whether there will ever be another Brad Miller.
Read and enjoy!
1. At what point did you realize covering the NBA was your calling? Was there a specific occurrence that prepared you for the job you have today?
I don’t know that I ever felt “a calling” since I basically just make basketball jokes, but I did tell my wife on our first date that my dream job was to, and I quote myself, “make basketball jokes on the internet.” That was in 2007.
2. What are some things about your job that the average fan or follower may not know about?
Probably the silly amount of basketball I consume on a day-to-day basis. Stories, videos, full games, parts of games — it’s a lot. Duh, but still, it’s only when you have a chance to think about it that you notice how all consuming truly following a sport can be.
3. How much of an impact has social media and the accessibility to advanced statistics/data had on the way you perform your job?
Social media makes my job possible, in a way. So I would say that on a scale from “not important” to “super duper important,” it probably comes in at a “very important.” Advanced stats are the same, but divided by 36 minutes.
4. Speaking of social media, how essential is it to be accessible on Twitter and other outlets to your fans and followers on a daily basis?
A lot of what we do is based around our personalities, so being out there on the internet is important. That’s how people know what we like, what we don’t like and what is the best cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch).
5. As your career has progressed from starting your own blog, The Blowtorch ,to becoming editor of with Ball Don’t Lie & TBJ to being on a popular podcast, what would you say was the key factor in you progression to each level in your career?
I work very hard. The work I do isn’t very serious, but I’m very serious about it.
6. What are some assignments or tasks you would like to be involved in to further elevate your career?
I have a very good sketch idea around a men’s rec league team going out to get wings that might be fun to actually try someday.
7. Obviously, professionalism is extremely important in your job. Has there been a particular individual, whether it be an athlete or fellow journalist, that has had you in awe during your interactions with them? How did you maintain your professionalism and do your job?
I once asked Dwyane Wade if it was exciting for him to get a call from Michael Jordan asking him to wear Jordan Brand, and if that was as surreal of an experience for him as it would be for a normal person like me. Luckily, this counts as my job.
8. Networking and having connections is essential to any position such as this. What are some tricks of the trade, so to speak, to build contacts with people in this industry? Is it a case of simply letting your portfolio speak for itself, becoming visible that way or is there more of an aggressive approach on the aspiring journalist’s part?
The whole reason I’m a part of this group is because I loved Skeets and Tas and emailed them telling them so. Eventually, that led to a friendship, a job, a different job, a move to a new country and a bunch of other incredible stuff that hasn’t really slowed down in the three years I’ve been a part of it. If you have the work to back it up, make sure someone sees it. Oh, and be cool about it. As Skeets once told me years ago, “Work hard and don’t be a dick,” which I believe is also a refrigerator magnet.
9. Spreading your knowledge about basketball is obviously an easy thing for you to do, but would you say it is easier to write about it or to articulate your thoughts on air? As someone who also aspires to write and be an on air personality, tell me about the differences and the similarities between the two.
I’m better at writing, no doubt. For someone who talks either too fast or too slow and runs in to some vocal crutches from time to time (mostly “for sure,” but also the word “beans” for this entire summer), it’s nice to be able to zing out exactly what I’m trying to zing through writing. It’s all the same though. What’s in the brain comes out through the mouth or the fingers.
10. I have been a die-hard Atlanta Hawks fan since I was 8 years of age. I’ve always dreamt of covering the team. Growing up did you have a favorite team or player? And now that you are part of the media, was it hard to stay objective even though you had emotional ties to that certain team or player(s)?
I’ve been a Bulls fan since I can remember basketball and I will be a Bulls fan as long as I remember basketball. At this point, being a fan has never been a problem.
11. During the off-season, it’s much harder to generate stories and get ideas for topics in blogs and podcasts. As someone who loves to write about the lighter side of hoops and shed light on stories that most people may not be aware of, what motivates you to do so?
Before I wrote full-time, I wasted hours upon hours of company time cruising the internet for anything that might break the monotony of data cleaning for a pharmaceutical research company. There are countless other people bored at their jobs who want to be entertained, and I’m just trying to help.
12. Who are some of your idols in the industry and what, if anything, do you take from those people who inspired you?
Here is a quick list of non-relatives who have affected my work: Kenny Mayne, Chuck Klosterman, Stephen Colbert, J.E. Skeets, Kelly Dwyer, Carles, Gabe Delahaye.
13. Approximately how many games do you watch per week? Is there anything in particular you look for while watching games?
In general, I watch three full games a night (an early, a late, one taped for the morning) and then will dip in to other games if something exciting is happening. When I’m watching, I’m looking for basketball-y stuff to note and research for the show the next morning, and I’m watching for silly stuff to follow up on that might be post or show-worthy.
14. What are your thoughts on this year’s rookie class? Any particular player that you believe will develop into the next superstar? Why?
I love Victor Oladipo. And I want Trey Burke to succeed for obvious reasons.
15. Has there been a specific game or event that you’ve previously covered that was particularly memorable or enjoyable? Please explain.
I once saw Joakim Noah wearing a denim shirt with a pair of jeans, plus a denim jacket after a Bulls playoff game.
16. You have created yourself a niche in the NBA writer’s world. What are some qualities you would say are essential to have to be considered unique amongst the thousands of people who write and blog about the NBA.
Having a voice that when you read it, you know I’ve written it. That’s the most important thing.
17. What are the required levels of travel and hours necessary to cover the NBA as a beginner in the industry?
If you do it from home — and you can do it from home — then all you’ll need is a tolerance for lack of sleep. Just get used to a nice, solid five hours and you’ll be good.
18. Over the years, which NBA arena or city would you say is your favorite?
Well, the United Center is obviously the best, but the Fieldhouse in Indiana is also the best, if you know what I’m saying.
19. People ask all the time, will there be another Jordan or Magic. I would like to know, in your eyes, will there be another Brad Miller? And if so, who is it or has he even entered the NBA yet?
The fact of the matter is that there will be other 7-footers who can shoot the three (but only from the top of the key), wear headbands and throw unnecessary backdoor passes while being one of the best passing big men of all-time. That kind of stuff is replicable. What won’t happen is that player playing an actual game with his hair in cornrows while having an And 1 tattoo and being a white guy from the middle of Indiana. That is pretty much guaranteed and that is why there will never be another Brad Miller.
20. Fans of TBJ have been kept in suspense all off-season, waiting for an announcement about your new home. Now that that day has arrived when you can tell us without having to kill us, so please enlighten our readers about where they can find TBJ, the reasons for your move, and what they can expect in the new season.
Well, first things first, TBJ has gone to that great hashtag heaven in the sky. What that really means is that we’ve officially changed our name to The Starters, which we’re happy to announce, will be on NBATV and NBA.com. The show will live stream at 12pm ET and be available on iTunes soon after that. Then, we’re going to take that show, break it down and show it on NBATV at 6pm ET, though I should make special mention that it debuts on October 30 at 5pm. The blog, which I edit, will be launching around the same time.
There were a few reasons for our move, but the biggest one is that we wanted to make the best basketball show we could possibly make and get it to as many people as we possibly could. There’s no better way to do that than by working for an international channel that literally shares the name of the sport we cover. We’re very excited.
21. You’ve previously hinted that there might be a few upgrades/new elements to the show at your new home. What are some of the new additions listeners/viewers/readers can look forward to?
The one thing we’ve always said would make our show even better is being able to show highlights and other game footage when we’re talking about basketball. Now that we’re with NBATV, that sort of thing is a given, which means we’re going to be able to really break things down and show you EVERYTHING we notice. If that’s Chubby Grizzlies Kid wilding out in the stands, that’ll be there. If it’s Nate Robinson being the first player in NBA history to throw down a backflip dunk, that’ll be there too. Basically, this is going to give us the opportunity to make exactly the kind of show we’ve always wanted to.
And that’s not to mention the fact that we’re with the same company that has random players come through all the time. If you’ve ever liked our All-Star coverage, just imagine what it’s going to be like with us having access to athletes on the regular. It’s going to get silly.
Also, there are like a hundred other things we’re excited about, but a little mystery never hurt anyone.
22. What are some of the things that you’re most looking forward to about living in the U.S. full-time again? There have got to be some things you’ll miss about Canada too, right?
The thing I’m most looking forward to about being back in the US is being able to watch everything online easily. You don’t think about it too much, but once you realize that Hulu and Comedy Central and Netflix and Saturday Night Live and all these things are not quite available in Canada, then you realize the benefits of being geotagged in the United States.
The main thing I’m going to miss is loonies and toonies. The one dollar bill becomes a nuisance once you’re used to having valuable change in your pocket.
23. Finally, and most importantly, any truth to the rumour that this move to NBA TV was secretly financed by your family and friends in the U.S. to get you closer to home?
Yes. 100 percent truth, even though I’m farther from home now than when I was in Canada.
We appreciate Trey Kerby for taking part in this edition of Hardwood Knocks and look forward to his quips and musings on NBATV this upcoming season.
More Trey Kerby on Twitter at @treykerby